Changes to 084 number tariffs, which will ensure that patients who call them do not pay more than the equivalent cost of a local number, are the fairest way forward for patients and practices, the BMA said today (Monday 14 September 2009). Commenting on the announcement by the Department of Health Dr Richard Vautrey, Deputy Chairman of the BMA's GPs Committee, said: "Patients who call their surgery because they're ill shouldn't be penalised because they have to call an 084 number, so we're pleased that the phone companies who supply these lines to practices have agreed to ensure that their tariffs are in line with local charges.
"There are many added benefits that telephone systems using these numbers have and which patients find helpful, for example better and quicker access, so it's good to see that the government has recognised this and has not gone for a complete ban on the use of these numbers. Combining the benefits of 084 numbers with an assurance that they won't cost more than a local phone call is the best solution for patients and practices.
"We'd also like to see more phone companies include 084 numbers in the comprehensive call packages they offer customers to increase the benefit for patients. Calling these numbers should be treated no differently from calling other geographic numbers."